Pickpockets, New York City
Be aware of the pick pockets at the Century 21 store in New York.
The store is very crowded. An old lady asked me to help her trying on some gloves to her husband.
The gloves were too small and that kept my hands busy, meantime someone put hands in my backpack, fortunatelly there was not valuable there.
Be aware and always look down when walking the streets. I came close many times to step into a real mess. A number of people pick up "poop" after their dog does its job. But with so many, literally thousands; maybe into millions on the streets, it is obvious that you will see ugly sites on the sidewalks. In some better areas in Manhattan, I even have seen double up and more of feces in corners of buildings, or in alleys, or stairwells.
On the other hand, all are so proud of their breed to who off to the passersby.
As we were walking around Greenwich Village, Sylvain and I decided to take a quick break to get our bearings. We'd found a bench and started looking at the map, when someone walked over with a dog, tied its leach to the bench, said "Don't worry, he's very friendly", and went into the nearest shop. Next thing I know, the dog’s got his paws on my shoulders and is copiously licking my face – I guess "very friendly" was a bit of an understatement in its case! By the time it started humping my leg I decided I'd had enough but I couldn't leave without taking a picture of my new friend!
New York is the safest large city in the United States, mainly thanks to a massive zero tolerance crime policy introduced under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the late 1990's. However that doesn't mean complete safety. A few common sense things can keep a sightseeing trip turning into catastrophe.
When walking the streets, avoid people who stop you to talk about something. Many of thease will be apparently homeless people looking for a few dollars. HHowever, this is not the case with many of them - they can tell a tourist a mile off. A way to avoid their advances is to walk around with earphones on (most New Yorkers have an Ipod or mp3 player glued to their ear).
a few other common sense tips include:
Keep your money in a pocket at the front of your body.
If someone bumps into you immediately check your person for your belongings.
Kepp your head at head level. In New York city it is very hard not to walk around looking at the size of the buildings. Just keep in mind that the guy behind you could be eyeing up your handbag/wallet
This seems obvious, I know, but don't put your wallet in your back pocket. In NYC, pickpockets consider it an invitation to help themselves to your wealth! (Once, I tried warning a tourist, but he gave me a worldweary glance, shrugged and walked away. I hope his "famous last words were 'I wuz robbed!!!' ")
If it were 1983 in New York City, the likelihood of stolen wallets, cameras, handbags would have been the unfortunate inevitable danger confronting both locals and tourists alike.
Compared to the pre-Guliani era, NYC nowadays is far safer and a lot more welcoming. With that said, I recently heard several tourists complaining that after a rowdy night at a meat packing club, one of the women had her digital camera stolen along with US$200. This is NOT the norm.
As a local, I can only suggest several ways in which you can avoid this mishap:
1. If traveling with two or more people, create a cross-check system. If one of the three heads to the bathroom, the other two are aware of any coats or the like are still in present posession.
2. There is no need to have all your cash and credit cards in one location. Divide the splendor in handbag, jean pocket, or leave half back in luggage compartment.
3. When in NYC, dress like you're in NYC...I have my suspicion that the group of women who had the items stolen stuck out like a sore thumb.
4. While eating in a restaurant, DO NOT hang handbag on chair arm, but rather place bag on inner side of chair between you and the potential thief. Or hang bag and place coat over the accessory.
5. Take cab receipt and any receipt in your travels! Believe it or not, people do return lost or left items and it might just be your lucky day.
6. Zip it up. If your bag, coat pocket, etc. closes by zipper or button, close it up. It's more of a hassle for the robber.
7. 'Street smart' takes you most places: staring down those who look suspicious in a club or on a sidewalk may ward off the evils.
8. *** drunk only works if you feel totally comfortable where you are....the local friends that have had their wallets stolen (only two) were completely inebriated at the time and their handbags were unzipped.
Take good care of yourself and please remember, a thief is a thief in any city. Don't let the jerk ruin your trip
Both of us were born and raised in New York City and yes this happens to natives as well as tourists: Tight spaces are the breeding grounds for pick pockets.
While walking toward Lincoln Center my wife and I were the only people on a short street that was narrowed by contruction scaffoling. We giggled as the nature of the street pushed us closer and closer together. (We are married close to thirty years but still laugh together - nice:)
There was no one in front nor behind, until out of the blue I felt my wife pull and heard her say something. Suddenly over my shoulder was another person, yes right upon us, pretending he was trying to get by.
This creep came up behind us quickly and just as fast her purse unzipped. Thus her reaction.
I blocked the man in while I demanded loudly that she let me know if anything is missing. I am not a large man but I do have a great New York scowl that is quite effective in these situations. I's not a disapproving scowl, it's more the look of "death to the person being scowled at."
Nonetheless as natural as it seems, this was dumb of me to do since also as a New Yorker, I know the thief many times has back up and I could have easily be beaten to a pulp by a gang of his back up people. Lucky for me that my wife found nothing missing, and the crook just wanted to move on quickly likely to get to his next mark.
I let him go and he disappeared as he appeared: into thin air, without commotion nor running.
While in New York City stay awake, stay aware, and look sharp. You can't avoid everything nor should you be afraid. Staying alert is worth one thousand police reports (which by the way are useless in getting your stuff back.)
Even being from the area, I still have been scammed. Here are a few that I can now recognize and hope to help you avoid.
1. In some stations (ex:Penn, Grand Central, Port Authority), a person may come up to you asking for money because they don't have enough to buy their ticket home. I've seen this numerous times and realized that although it may be legitimate, some people have developed this into a scam. They ask multiple people for a couple of dollars, but in the end, they just walk out of the station without ever buying a ticket. Another little note to this story, I've seen people dressed very properly (i.e. business suite) and ask for money for train ticket home.
2. Street vendors saying that they are selling genuine name-brand items (ex: Rolex Watches, Prada Bags, Tiffany jewelry). Do not pay their asking prices. No matter how real the item looks, it is not the real-deal!! It's fine to buy the fake items "knock-offs", just make sure you're paying the fake prices. Think about it, would Rolex or Tiffany & Co authorize selling of their products from street vendors??? No, so just make sure your shelling out small bills for replicas.
I don't know if this is a danger, but I often see tourists wearing backpacks on the front of their body, clutching them closely as if they were a small child. This does nothing but scream "TOURIST." New York is a pretty safe city. Women, Relax, use a stylish purse as you would at home. Keep it closed and under your arm. Men, use common sense & carry your wallets in a safe place. No need for a "fanny pack."
New York is a big city, both in terms of area and number of people who live, work and visit here. While most New Yorkers are good people who will help you out and are happy to give directions and such, there are certain unsavory characters around. Most tourists fear being mugged, assaulted, or otherwise physically harmed, but there are simple precautions you can take to prevent this by knowing how to take care of yourself.
Do not bring to New York anything that you cannot replace, i.e. expensive jewelry, watches, and fur coats. If you do choose to wear expensive jewelry here, cover it up when you are on the street or subway. When taking money out to pay for the subway or a hotdog, don't flash it round. Instead, keep some money in your pocket separate from your wallet for these kinds of small expenditures.
Keep your handbag, cameras and video recorders slung over the front of your body, where you can keep a hand and an eye on them, especially on the bus and subway. Walk confidently, as if you know where you are going, and avoid wandering around with your neck craned skyward to gawk at the tall buildings. This is unsafe not only because you look like a tourist, but it also decreases your awareness of movement and people directly around you. However, don't be shy of asking people on the street for directions - New Yorkers are generally happy to help.
On the subway, it's best to avoid eye contact with anyone who looks threatening. I suppose we can all look threatening at times, which means, sadly, that everyone on the subway avoids eye contact with everyone else.
I lived in NY for three years, and never had a problem. But I have seen plenty of others who have not been so lucky. Last visit in Times Square, I saw a woman lift a pocket book from someone's backpack. I promptly grabbed her and threatened her with bodily harm if she didn't give it back. The nice tourist from Oklahoma was very thankful I saved the $600 in her wallet. The pickpockets were a two person team. One opened the backpack, and the other lifted the wallet. I only got the one, but that still felt great. Typical of the pros. So a couple of lessons to be learned here:
1. Don't keep you wallet or money in a backpack on your back. It is way too easy to lift.
2. Don't carry all your cash, cards, etc. in one place. Keep on you only what you need.
3. For women, have a shoulder bag with a zipper and a flap. You want something that has two things to get past before you get into it. It make take you a few more seconds to get your chapstick out, but think of how much harder it will make life for a pickpocket.
4. For guys, keep your wallet in a front pocket instead a back pocket. It's very difficult for someone to get into your pants there and you not know about it.
For all its prosperity New York is also home to extreme poverty and you can hardly walk 10 yards without someone asking you for some spare change. Generally speaking most of the beggars are non-aggresive and are used to being ignored.
Some of the "beggars" are pretty good. This guy pictured came up to me at the Port Transit Authority Terminal and gave me his tale about having left his wallet at the office and needed to borrow $5 for his bus fare home. He really did put some work into it, offering to give me his phone number and to meet me tomorrow to repay me - as you can see he even consented to having his photo taken so that I would recognise him!!
Having had a few beers that afternoon I was in a pretty mellow mood and his performance was so good I actually gave him 10 bucks, all part of the street entertainment!!
New York area newspapers have recently been reporting an increase in muggings on streets and subways all on account of the IPod boom. IPods and other portable high-priced MP3 players seem to have taken over, as you are constantly seeing people enjoying their music during their commute. The suggestion is that, if you choose to enjoy your IPod on the streets or in the subways of New York, you keep it in your pocket at all times or else don't listen to it, especially on the packed subways. I just am reporting what I've heard.
It have never happend to me before that everytime I was going to pay ... at nearly any place I went ... for a tee or a coffe or a beer or lunch or dinner ... always the bill was wrong ...
OH SORRY ITS AN ERROR ....!!!! they used to say
Perhaps it is becuase it was Chritmas time and there where many tourist and ... is the good moment to trick people ... or becuase I have a face that tells "trick me please" I don't know
just look your bill before paying with attention ... and question your self if a tee can cost $40
Never carry a wallet in your back pocket (the obvious), always stay behind the line when waiting for a subway/metro, if driving in the city...read parking signs carefully, if doubtful try and ask an officer if it's fine to park...you want to make sure you're not at a tow away zone, again, on subways, it can be sad, but don't give money to homeless people on the subway car...you may also be able to judge who really needs money or who is just looking to get alcohol or drugs - offer them your sandwich, leftovers, water, etc. instead.